La Maddalena to Cagliari
We left the La Maddalena archipelago and the island of Caprera for the day hop to La Caletta where we stayed for two nights. Not much going on here, the town was deserted as it is offseason. After a day of pouring rain we left from La Caletta to our next stop Arbatax.
The little town here had no old world charm to it but was a pleasant place to spend a few days.
We did some hiking and exploring around here before heading to Porto Corallo.
This was a convenient stop on the way to Cagliari so we would not have to do an overnight passage. There was no town or any amenities here at all, just a marina kind of in the middle of nowhere. We left at sunrise the next day for Cagliari. For the first half of the trip there was zero wind. Once in sight of Capo Carbonara, the southern most promitory of Sardinia I could see well ahead of me that things were going to change once rounding the cape. We were in flat seas with no wind at all but in the distance the waters were completely covered in white caps. The capes on all these island always pack some kind of punch. From zero wind and motoring we went to 25 to 30 knots, right on the nose. Damn, it always happens. We can’t effectively motor in wind this big if there is a significant seas so we sailed close hauled and tacked our way to the harbor.
On entry, Cagliari looks like a busy industrial city harbor. You can see the old city perched up on top of the hill but the industrial harbor and urban sprawl dominate your view. At one end there are large cruise ships and several navy vessels and at the opposite end of the harbor are the sailboats and fishing boats spread out amongst several marinas. Separating the two ends of the harbor is a long boardwalk and bicycle path. We had no idea what we were in for, except what we had read on the web about the city. We arrived at our marina, Marina Del Sole, as the sun was setting.
We were met by one of the guys working here, Ricardo, who helped us get tied up. He put us in a good spot where we would have the least effect of Mistral winds and associated swell, the dominant winter weather pattern here. The marina looked very run down and the boats that were here were kind of a mix. Some yachts looked well used and maintained, certainly the minority of the marinas patrons. The majority appeared to be long term homes on the water. some lived in and some abandoned. The pontoon that we were put on had power cords and hoses spread out all over the place. Certainly not a tidy organized place on first impression. Both of us famished and not wanting to cook, we made our way down the well worn wood docks to exit the marina. We had to pass the four grizzly old guard dogs and a few makeshift tents, where they had showers and the little marina bar. The bar had a few people stirring around and a table with some old timers playing dominoes.
Well, we were both kind of anxious as our first impression was we were going to be wintering here in this industrial looking city in a run down dilapidated marina. We sat down for wine and dinner and had not really said much to each other as to what we were thinking. We both wanted this place to work for the winter but the first impression we both had on arrival was one of despair. That night Jessica woke me up around 4am as she could not sleep. She said, “It is rare that I get these feelings but I had it once when I was in college and my boyfriend talked me into moving into a broken down trailer in a mobile park in the woods.” I knew the story already and this wasn’t good for us staying here. She finished, “I think we should sail on further south to Sicily right away.” So I agreed we needed a back up plan but we should stick it out here for a few weeks and see what its like. Besides, we could not go anywhere as Jess’s mom was arriving in two days and we were going to spend a week with her in Sardinia.
In those two days before Patty arrived we did some preliminary city touring and started to fall in love with Cagliari, as well as our well worn marina. There is a great energy here, a lot of things going on from art exhibitions to theatre in the street and live music. We met a few local people and also some expats and Jess and I agreed that this city would work out just fine for us. We were only here at this point for a few days, but the city and the marina had completely changed in both of our eyes and we were excited to return from our inland travels and explore even more.
Two days after Patty’s arrival we left for a whirlwind land tour of Sardinia and ferry trip back to Corsica. We were going to do some hiking and explore some of the interior towns on the island. We drove through the Parco Nazionale del Golfo di Orosei e del Gennargentu en route to the town of Nouro. The beautiful mountainous drive lead us to one of the four "Blue Zones” in the world. Nuoro is also known for its not so distant past industry of kidnapping. Only in the mid 1980’s did the business of kidnapping both local and foreigners for ransom end. We stayed at a little bed and breakfast and woke up early to drive to the base of our hike down into Gola Su Gorropu, Europe's Grand Canyon. A spectacular 6 hour roundtrip hike into the beautiful canyon. Patty pulled some muscles on the way down and heroically without complaint made her way out of the canyon with a little help from Jess and I. The real heroes we met at the end, some local men doing some heavy tree work were gracious enough to help Patty into their truck and take her the last half mile out of the canyon.
We drove up the Costa Smeralda to Santa Teresa where the next morning we were going to catch the ferry to Bonafacio. We spent the day touring this little village that Jess and I knew well. We caught the ferry back late in the day so we could drive on to our next stop, Castelsardo, a small town built around the castle of the Doria family in 1102 AD.
Our last stop was a complete fluke. We saw a sign for a pizza restaurant and were all hungry so took the exit to what turned into a great days visit. The exit was for a small historical sight called Nuraghe di Santa Christina. The pizza place happened to be at the entrance to this historical sight, that is only open to the public 9 days a year. This is during the feast days of Santa Christina, and we happened upon it the last of the 9 days. There was some local musicians playing in the small Christian village that was centered around a small church. These were built next to ancient village and temple from the late bronze age, in the 11-9th century BC. We ended up spending several hours touring this historic site and also had a nice lunch, our original intention
We returned back to Cagliari that evening and spent the next few days visiting the city with Patty. We look forward to her return visit in the spring, probably in Greece.
We had a great visit right after Thanksgiving with John and Kim Natale. We basically hung out it Cagliari for 3 days and took in all the sites and ate something amazing for each lunch and dinner. We are much looking forward to a revisit while Cadence is sailing and not at the dock.